27 March 2001
U2 Elevate It A Little Higher Still
U2's second show of their fifty date North American leg of Elevation 2001, raised the temperature higher still.
'What surprised me most was the emotional level of the show, said Show Designer and Director Willie Williams. "I expected it to be high but both the first two shows exceeded anything I've seen before at a U2 show.'
This from a man who has been to 638 U2 shows. Kicking off again with Elevation, house lights up, audience amazed, the band stormed into Beautiful Day and End of the World before switching from the previous night's set and performing Discotheque.
As that rolled into Staring At The Sun, the entire 19,000 capacity crowd seemed to be singing along and the temperature was rising.
'This is hot here, if you're Irish, ' said Bono. 'You have sunshine 365 days a year when we have it only 36 days, that's why the melancholy. It's all that rain, which sometimes turns to blue and to black.'
'Sometimes,' he continued, 'You have to write a song like this for a mate of yours that slips away into the black. This is for Michael Hutchence.'
Stuck In A Moment gave way to New York and New Year's Day; Sunday Bloody Sunday (Did Bono introduce it by saying, 'For the first time, a new song'?) led to The Sweetest Thing and In A Little While ('For my wife Ali who's here with a baby in her belly').
The band came centre stage and to the tip of the heart for their introductions, just in case there remained any doubt at this late stage. Larry ('Mullen Not So Jr, but he still looks like it.'), Adam ('Sporting the camouflagges and just-back-from-Pakistan look and very much the same as when I first met him at sixteen.') and Edge ('Even his mother calls him The Edge, 'Good morning The Edge, how would you like your cornflakes this morning?') had no time to introduce their singer who was reading a note passed to him from a fan.
'Dear Bono, I love Larry!'
Edge and Bono then broke into an acoustic version of Angel of Harlem, during which it appeared Bono forgot his lyrics, finishing the song with the words, 'Angel Try Harder.'
No need at all, Miami was in U2's gift for a second succesive night.
'I wondered if I should be more careful in implementing the visuals,' said Willie Williams, 'Because we are clearly dealing with emotional plutonium here.'
Williams, who was thanked from the stage by Bono - along with Mark Fisher and Catherine Owens - for their work in designing the show, said that he felt he had succeeded in creating a situation which 'facilitated communication between band and audience.'
'I've been aiming to intrigue with the visual content but not distract from the music, so what we are doing this time is a lot more atmospheric and discreet than with previous tours. 'Much of the time all I have to do is get out of the way.'
One point where Williams and Owens do not keep out of the way came at the end of the first part of the show, after Bono had departed into the crowd during The Fly - and before the band returned for the encore. In the gap, a short but extraordinary video was aired on a pair of huge screens in which Charlton Heston, champion of the American gun lobby, was shown explaining that 'a gun is only bad in the hands of a bad person'.
As the chilling video piece finished, a small child, of perhaps three or four, picked a gun out of a bag in her hallway like a toy..... and the opening bars of Bullet The Blue Sky burst out of the monitors.
'Thank you South Florida, 'said Bono after the final song Walk On, 'It's a great place to start, hope we can go on from here.'